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Egypt forms committee to amend constitution

Interim president Adly Mansour (left), who appointed the committee that will propose the amendments, also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah (right) in Cairo on Saturday.

JORDANIAN ROYAL PALACE/via EPA

Interim president Adly Mansour (left), who appointed the committee that will propose the amendments, also met with Jordan’s King Abdullah (right) in Cairo on Saturday.

CAIRO — Egypt’s interim president named a committee of legal experts Saturday to propose amendments to the country’s Islamist-drafted constitution after a popularly backed military coup ousted the country’s first freely elected president.

It is the latest push by the country’s new leadership to move ahead with a military-backed timetable for a return to democratic rule despite determined protests by former President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters over his ouster. The drafting of Egypt’s constitution was one of the most divisive issues that came to characterize Morsi’s only year in office.

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His Muslim Brotherhood group has officially refused to negotiate with the new government, saying they are open for talks only after Morsi is reinstated. They say the only legitimate constitution is the one voted on and ratified by Morsi in December.

Liberals twice walked out of committees drafting the charter under Morsi, complaining that the Brotherhood and its allies dominated the process and stifled their suggestions.

Protests over the constitution and the direction of the country turned deadly after Morsi issued temporary decrees in late November that put himself and the drafting committee above judicial oversight. The charter was then finalized in a rushed overnight session and passed in a nationwide referendum. The military suspended the constitution after the July 3 coup.

In a decree Saturday, interim President Adly Mansour appointed the 10-member committee that will propose amendments to the constitution. The committee consists of six judges and four constitutional law professors.

Committee members have 30 days to suggest amendments. A second committee, made up of 50 public figures including politicians, unionists and religious figures, will then have 60 days to review those amendments.

After that, citizens will vote on the proposed amendments in a referendum, according to the military-backed timetable. Parliamentary elections are to follow.

Unlike the previous drafting committee under Morsi, at least 20 percent of the second committee is to be represented by young Egyptians who helped galvanize street movements and women.

Mohammed Abdel-Aziz, a leading figure in the Tamarod petition drive that mobilized the massive street protests that led to Morsi’s ouster, said his group has launched a new initiative to collect suggestions from Egyptians on the constitution.

In another sign of the interim government’s drive to move on with the transition, Jordan’s King Abdullah met with the country’s president, army chief, and other top figures Saturday in the first visit by a head of state to Cairo since the coup.

The king expressed his support for the ‘‘national choices’’ made by Egyptians, according to a statement released by the Egyptian presidency.

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